Ever wondered how different types of toilet seats deliver a different experience? There may be that one stall in your office that everyone avoids due to its awful toilet seat.
On the other hand, there may be a stall that makes you feel incredibly comfortable! All of this mostly comes down to one key difference: the shape of the toilet.
The key difference between a round and elongated toilet is in terms of size and shape. A round toilet has a circular opening, while an elongated toilet has an oval one. Elongated toilets are usually about 2 inches larger in length than round toilets. Round toilets are also more compact, whereas elongated toilets are considered more comfortable. (1)
Round and elongated toilets are the two most common types of toilet installations (2).
However, the structure of both these types makes them quite different.
Below, we’ll talk about the different shapes, placements, pros, and cons of these toilet shapes, so you can find out which one you’d like to use!
How Is A Round Toilet Different From An Elongated One?
An elongated toilet seat is longer than a round toilet seat. So, the primary difference is in the length.
On average, the length of a round toilet is 16.5 inches. This increases to about 18.5 inches in elongated toilets.
Occasionally, you might find seats in both shapes that are larger and smaller than this marked measurement. However, the difference between the length of a round vs elongated toilet remains 2 inches on average.
It’s easy to spot whether a toilet is round or elongated. However, if you’re confused, pull out your measuring tape and calculate the distance between the two far ends of your toilet seat.
Make sure you lift the moveable seat before measuring, otherwise your calculations will be inaccurate.
Naturally, a round toilet may be the most convenient option when you’re trying to save on space.
However, that’s not the only criteria when figuring out which toilet to go for.
Here’s a list of all the differences besides the shape and size:
- Classic design
- Round, compact seat takes up less space
- Seat has a small opening
- Shallow, round structure increases chances of the contents splashing up
- Harder to clean
- May be uncomfortable to sit on
- Better for kids and potty-training
- Less expensive even in the higher-end spectrum
- Still in use but is gradually going out of fashion
- Contemporary design
- Takes up more space
- Wider opening, ample space to sit on
- Deeper base and shape keep the chances of splash back lower
- Easier to clean
- Generally more comfortable, provides support to rear and back
- Best suited for adults
- More expensive
- Quite popular, with most manufacturer accessories available
Which Is Better: Round Or Elongated Toilet?
Purchasing a new toilet isn’t child’s play! Every part of its construction contributes to your comfort or discomfort. Since you can’t keep installing new toilets every other day, this decision requires rigorous thinking.
To clarify which toilet seat is better, let’s explore some factors:
Manufacturing and Public Use
Round toilets have been the most manufactured and the most used toilets since people started installing proper washroom systems in their homes.
There isn’t much logic as to why manufacturers settled on this shape(round toilets became a standard design merely through consensus).
However, physiological concerns have probed manufacturers to consider alternate styles. This is how the elongated design of toilets came about.
While round toilets aren’t entirely forgotten, elongated toilets are competing for popularity, too!
Space Around the Toilet
The space around the toilet may not seem that critical at first sight, but a toilet with the wrong measurements can mess up the layout of your entire washroom.
Most building codes require a minimum of a 21-inch space between the front of the toilet and any object or wall in front of it.
In case the washroom is in use by a person with a disability or mobility issue, you’ll need more space.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a 48-inch gap between toilets and surroundings.
A round toilet seat also has lesser volume, and its bowl fits within the axis of the rest of the frame.
This makes round toilets more compact, so they’re easier to fit in small spaces. Apartments and public toilets generally have round toilet seats.
On the contrary, an elongated toilet seat extends outwards and beyond the mainframe of the toilet.
This makes it harder to fit these toilets into smaller spaces. This also means fitting an elongated seat into a small bathroom may mean you can’t pass building codes or comply with the ADA mentioned above.
Since round toilet seats are compact, they have little space for you to sit on. You may have to cram your thighs on the seat.
If the washroom is tiny, there may not be enough space for your legs either.
A lack of sufficient sitting space can also be extremely uncomfortable for people with disabilities.
Elongated toilets have a much wider opening, which makes the seat larger. This allows elongated toilets to offer more comfort to users.
However, elongated toilet seats can only work well if you have enough space in the washroom.
Mess and Splashback
Round toilet seats have a smaller bowl, in terms of circumference as well as depth. Since the bowl doesn’t elongate ahead, it has a pretty steep interior lining.
As a result, it fills up easily and has more chances of liquid splashing right back up. Since the opening is small, it’s easier to end up soiling your toilet seat.
Elongated toilets are far better in-depth. The gradual elongation of the seat means these toilets can hold more.
The steep outward rise of the seat also makes it difficult for anything to splashback.
Lastly, elongated bowls have a spacious opening, which means fewer chances of anything staining the seat.
Ease of Cleaning
Round toilets are harder to maintain because their seat is narrow. It can be a bit difficult to scrub the interior without accidentally touching the walls of the bowl.
As we mentioned, the seat also has a chance of getting soiled, so keeping it free of germs is a bit of a struggle as well.
Elongated toilets have a wide opening, so you won’t have to struggle to reach areas far below with a scrubbing brush. Since the seat is wide, the toilet seat doesn’t get soiled too much and is easier to clean.
If you are not into cleaning, then you should take a look at some of the best automatic toilet bowl cleaners available, we wrote an entire guide on it here.
Round toilets are usually more suitable for those with a tiny, frail figure, including kids.
The small seat fits these body types well. It is also perfect for young children, especially when they’re in the potty-training phase.
This is because the seat opening is small, so they have a lesser chance of falling in.
On the other hand, elongated toilets are typically a much better choice for adults, for people with larger frames, and for those who face mobility issues.
These toilets offer sufficient sitting space. Also, their backseat supports you comfortably when you’re using the toilet.
On the whole, round toilets are cheaper than elongated ones. Even with the same manufacturer and style range, there’s a difference of $50 or $60 in the prices the two toilet seats.
So, if a round toilet costs approx. $200-$360, an elongated one with the same features and style may cost $250-$310. However, either of these types will cost the same when it comes to installation fees. (3)
Extra Perks and Accessories
Since elongated toilets are becoming popular lately, manufacturers are also introducing new features in them. Be it a power flush, cleaning equipment, or a fancy toilet cover, you’re going to find more variety in elongated toilets.
Round toilets still have their utility and purpose, but their accessories may be harder to find.
If you are thinking of extra perks, then you should also take a look at our dual flush vs single flush article.
Which Toilet Do Plumbers Recommend?
Your plumber will recommend a round toilet if you have less space in your bathtub. Each plumber has their own expertise with different toilet seats. Some prefer round ones for home use, while others may recommend elongated toilets for commercial properties (4).
The type of toilet your plumber recommends may also be affected by the condition of the pipes. Elongated seats generally need relatively newer pipes to work well.
Can You Replace a Round Toilet With an Elongated One?
You can replace a round toilet seat and replace it with an elongated one. If you wish to do so, here’s what to do:
1. Measure the total area you have available in front of the round seat. Add two inches to the number you get. This is the total length you’ll get with an elongated seat.
2. Make sure you’re complying with building codes and the ADA by fitting the larger sized elongated toilet.
3. If you’re eligible to get an elongated seat, call a plumber to detach your current seat. If you’re experienced at DIY, you can remove the seat on your own too.
4. Make sure you check the condition of the plumbing and ensure any leaks you find are repaired.
5. Consult a good sanitary and plumbing store and purchase an elongated seat.
Takeaway: Round vs Elongated Toilet — Which Is Better?
All things considered, both round and elongated toilets have their upsides and downsides. While round ones are great for small washrooms and young kids, elongated ones provide more comfort.
Moreover, your budget and space will also impact your choice. There are great toilets available for both types.
If you have any questions, please let us know!